Microsoft has finally released the first release candidate for Internet Explorer 8 promising to make the Internet experience faster, secure and more compliant with web standards.
The new version of the Release Candidate 1 was out on Monday and we took it for a quick spin. Here's what it looks like prima facie. On the looks front, there is no visible change from the Beta version. However, this one does share a family resemblance to IE7. However, its under the skin that the major changes have taken place - as claimed by Microsoft.
If you have been using Internet Explorer 8 beta for a while, you might have been used to the features that include enhanced tabbed browsing. If you're wondering what this "enhanced" tabbed browsing is, read on:
While tabbed browsing had made it to Internet Explorer since the IE7 days, whats new this time is the option to re-open accidentally closed tabs. This feature is present in Firefox and Chrome already - so no, its not something very revolutionary. The browser also has the ability to color code and group similar tabs together. Google's Chrome too boasts of a similar feature.
Then there is the much talked about tab isolation feature. The idea behind this feature is that each tab in an open IE8 window has its own process and a crash in one of the tabs will (ideally) not affect the entire browser and cause it crash. Sounds similar? Google's Chrome too has something similar and my experience with that too has not been very pleasant.
Caption: The IE 8 Beta and RC1 versions compared
Being the latest version of the Microsoft's browser, this one is obviously touted as the most secure ever. The most notable addition is the introduction of the Clickjacking feature. Clickjacking enables hackers and data snoopers weave a filter on sites so they can view the information being accessed from the browser. This can be extremely dangerous if you're an online banking user and frequently handle financial transactions online, the feature might turn out to be useful. The downside however is that, for it to work, webmasters will need to put a tag in the page header, which will help detect and eventually prevent clickjacking.
Microsoft had debuted the InPrivate mode for anonymous browsing in the Beta version of IE8. In the latest update, the browser features two security features called the InPrivate Browsing and InPrivate Filtering. A new InPrivate window can be opened by Ctrl+shift+P while the Ctrl+Shift+F option will open the InPrivate filtering option. The filtering feature was integrated with the browsing feature in the beta. It has now been integrated as a separate feature.
IE8 integrates its own Phishing filter called the SmartScreen. The feature analyses websites from an existing database and marks them as a probable scam site if it finds something fishy. The flip side is that the authenticity of the website is dependent on the database that has to be constantly updated.
This has been one of the focuses for the Engineers behind the IE8. Designing websites optimized for various browsers has always been a challenge for web developers and for the same reason, IE8 has been given the capability to handle W3 web standards so that the appearance of web pages does not change. For those in doubt and used to IE7, there is the compatibility mode that will help it retain the familiar IE7 look.
We did try an ACID3 test on the browser and this is what we came up with.
If you're a Firefox, Opera or Chrome user, are you ready to make the switch - or at least have a look at what the RC1 has to offer?